Prison Service

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Prison Service
Corrections officer, correctional officer, detention officer, jail guard, prison guard, prison warder, or prison officer are just some of the terms used to describe a person who is responsible for the care of those who have been arrested and are awaiting trial while on remand, or who have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to serve time in a prison or jail.
There are 14 prisons and detention centres around the country in which these officers are employed. The primary concern is to keep prisoners in secure and safe custody, but much time is also spent on prisoner rehabilitation and maintaining their physical and mental wellbeing. It is employments that is suitable to characters with a deep sense of justice and who aspire to contribute to the betterment of society.

There are no higher or further education courses specifically designed for the prison service, although entrants into the service are required to have a good general standard of education. Positions are obtained by successful completion of a civil service competition that includes an interview and a written test that will establish the applicant’s numerical ability, comprehension, reasoning and language skills.

Once accepted into the service, new prison officers must undergo an eight-week induction course that combines classroom tuition (lectures, practical exercises and group work), job familiarisation in a variety of custodial institutions, and physical training (control and restraint, breathing apparatus training, etc. ).

Certain roles within the prison service require candidates to have specific qualifications. Trade Officers are prison officers whose role includes building maintenance; in applying for this position the candidate will need to be qualified in a trade such as masonry, bricklaying, painting, plastering, carpentry, electrics, fitting or plumbing. Nurse officers, who provide medical aid to prisoners and staff, must have obtained nursing qualifications before applying for the position.

The Work
The service is run on a hierarchy basis and there are good opportunities of promotion for those who excel. This career path consists of attaining the following successive levels of seniority – prison officer, assistant chief officer, chief officer 2, chief officer 1, deputy governor, governor 2, governor 1. Easy!

Similarly to the rest of the civil service, prison officers can avail of in-house training programmes, and those who enrol in part-time further education often have their course fees refunded.

Although the job calls for a certain amount of repetitious tasks, new challenges and tasks that arise on a daily basis. A fundamental aspect of this career entails working in conjunction with others; for example with welfare officials, teachers and psychologists, in providing the prisoner with the necessary social and work skills on the road to rehabilitation. Increasingly, prison officers are becoming involved in prisoner programmes such as theatrical productions.

At all times during their work, prison officers must remain extremely vigilant in relation to breaches of security and investigate any suspicious incidents or sudden changes in prisoner behaviour.

Prison officers supervise the workshops where prisoners manufacture products and items such as aids for the handicapped.

A strong personality is a necessity for the role of prison officer. They must be absolutely committed to the rehabilitation of those who are often uncooperative individuals.

Another possible difficulty is maintaining a sense of distance with work and personal life; it is a career that calls for extreme dedication and this can be a difficult aspect to switch off at the end of a shift.

An ability to communicate well is an important skill to possess, especially considering the different individuals an officer will encounter. A certain amount of resourcefulness is also an attribute that will prove itself useful.

The work often involves physical labour and so a degree of physical fitness is necessary. Officers can be assigned to any prison in the country, and are liable to be transferred a number of times over the duration of a career.

Did you know?

With 2. 2 million inmates, America has more prisoners behind bars than any other country on earth – 25 percent of the world’s incarcerated, with just five percent of the population.

Further Resources


Irish Prison Service:

www. irishprisons. ie

Public Appointments Service:

www. publicjobs. ie

Irish Prison Service:

www. irishprisons. ie is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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